Perhaps, one of the most pressing concerns affecting not only the educational sector, but the entire society, is the rising violence in schools. Indeed, there’s no question that school-related violence is one of the gravest threats that any government will have to face. In fact, the U. S. is just one of the dozens of countries plagued by this social ill. With easy access on guns and knives, schools—students and teachers, specifically—have been placed at a more precarious condition.
Thus, it is no longer surprising if shooting spree, sexual assault, and stabbing incidents continue to headline the newspapers around the world. Such is the alarming rate of violence in what was once considered the haven of safety and sanctuary of morality that parents, students, and policymakers have to brave. In general, violence in U. S. schools, plus the government’s failure to prevent—let alone eliminate—even in the presence of new initiatives specifically intended for this purpose, has turned out a huge cause for concern that needs to be addressed no sooner than later.
No student or teacher for this matter should ever suffer from violence inside the classroom, playground, school cafeteria, or even while on his way to or from school. But the truth does not speak of the same. As the rate of school violence continues to escalate year by year, so does the disruption of the learning process, degradation of the students’ and teachers’ morale, and the spread of fear not only in the school but in the community in general.
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Aside from the immediate negative impact, school violence could also give birth to youth violence, which could stem to more diverse concerns in criminality, peace and order, and public health and safety. In this paper, we will try to delve the degree of school violence and how dangerous it is not only to wither the integrity of the U. S. school system, but also to rock society as well. In the present condition where the government seems too powerless enough to put this social crisis to an end, it is safe to say that school violence is indeed a force to reckon, a substantial shaker that will definitely cause the failure of schools in general.
Data Reveal the Alarming Rate of School Violence Numerous studies have been conducted to assess the real impact and the degree in which school violence has really affected the school system. Data from the US Department of Education show disturbing figures. Between 2003 and 2004, it was revealed that 1 out of 10 teachers in urban schools admitted receiving threats from students. Between 2005 and 2006, almost 40 percent of public schools had at least one case of school violence. In 2007, 23 percent of students admitted that gangs existed in their schools.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (series 4) reveals that according to the results of a nationwide survey in 2007 among students from grades 9 to 12 show that almost 6 percent of students did bring guns, knives and other types of dangerous weapons inside the school. Furthermore, almost 8 percent of students were threatened, harassed, or injured by these weapons. Meanwhile, 12 percent of the respondent-students admitted that they had been involved in physical fights inside the school.
A more disturbing note revealed that most than 22 percent of students sold, used, and were offered and given illegal drugs right inside the school. Nonfatal assaults are also rampant inside the school. The Department of Education reveals that in 2006, on a national level, 3 out of 100 students are actively participating in school-based crimes, which included rape, assault, and theft. Bullying is even a more serious cause for alarm. More than one-third of the entire student population had been victims of bullying, 4 percent of them being bullied online or through text messages.
This stems to a more violent personality as bullied students have more chances of getting engaged into fights, psychological trauma and dropping out of school. Likewise, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (33-36) reveals that school violence-related deaths continue to escalate on a yearly basis. Although on an average rate, 1 out of 100 students die due to violence inside the school, still, such cases are too much to ignore, since NO death, especially violence-related must ever occur inside the campus. Since 2003, more than 115 students have been killed in almost 110 incidents.
On a yearly basis, that translates to 17 students dying from homicide. Anderson et al (2695) reveals that school-associated violence and deaths occur “before and after the school day and during lunch,” while cases of violence are more likely to occur at the onset of the semester (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Violent, 657). Half of recorded homicide cases show that perpetrators actually reveal some sort of warning signal before they attack their victims. These include making a threat or leaving a note before the crime occurs (Anderson et al, 2695).
Risk Factors Leading to Violence in Schools School violence does not exist simply because they have to exist. There are numerous underlying factors that trigger the occurrence of numerous conditions that give rise to this case. In fact, experts, researchers and lawmakers agree that there is a deeper root that that gives life to these occurence. According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation, among the risk factors affecting school violence include: “weapons, media violence, cyber abuse, the impact of school, community, and family environments, personal alienation,” (crf-usa. rg) among others. Access to Weapons. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the rapid increase in the rate of gun accessibility among teens in the United States. As more teenagers owned guns, thus, the rise of gun deaths and injuries (crf-usa. org). A study conducted by Bergstein et al (794-8) in Boston and Milwaukee shows that that 42 percent of students who responded revealed that "they could get a gun if they wanted, 28 percent have handled a gun without adult knowledge or supervision, and 17 percent have carried a concealed gun…. This claim was backed by data provided by the University of Southern California School of Medicine, which reports that around 35% of U. S. households with children 18 years old and below are reported to have owned at least one firearm, which “translates to more than 11 million children living in homes with firearms” (crf-usa. org). Furthermore, teens can also acquire handguns in illegal sales, as "American gun shows continue to be a venue for illegal activity, including unlicensed sales to prohibited individuals" (Bergstein et al, 794). Violence Caused by Media. The Constitutional Rights Foundations (crf-usa. rg ) reveals that an average American child will have witness 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent acts by time he reaches 7th grade. That’s because of television. Time and again, claims have been made and studies have been conducted to really test the truth behind the impact of television in inculcating wrong values to a child. According to the Anderson et al (81), “violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts. Although certain characteristics exhibited by viewers, such as identification of aggressive characters), parental guidance and other social factors, as well as the content of the media could make or break the effect of media violence. These also count the the degree of aggression instilled in the viewer’s personality. Cyber Bullying. Anderson et al (83) write that high school students are more exposed to violence in video games, thus, they show "more pro-violent attitudes, had more hostile personalities, were less forgiving, believed violence to be more normal, and behaved more aggressively in their everyday lives. ” However, Sherry (msu. du ) reasoned out that the "overall effect of these games on aggressiveness does not appear great" to warrant significant attention. School Environments. A survey conducted by the Children's Institute International revealed that more than half off teenage population living in rural, suburban, or urban areas all agree that schools are becoming more and more violent in the passing of time. School-based Gangs. The National Center for Educational Statistics, as quoted by the Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA (2), reveals that in 2005, “24 percent of students ages 12-18 reported that there were gangs at their schools. Nevertheless, no difference was observed with regards to reporting gang presence among rural and suburban students. Communities. Aside from the negligence in the school and in the home, communities also show neglect in children, which is another reason for hastened occurrence of school violence. Furthermore, a community’s unresponsive attitude “to the needs of families and their children […could] develop into school violence […given that] [a]fter-school and summer programs are not always available” (crf-usa. org). Family.
The family, which should have been highly responsible in shaping a child’s mind to become upright and law-abiding, are also the one the blame of the deterioration of the values and attitudes among teenagers. As parents neglect their duty to rare their child with positive attitudes, “children may develop negative--and often violent--behavior patterns” (crf-usa. org). But more than providing room for negative values to grow, irresponsible and abusive households also impede a child’s growth and maturity. Thus, as observed, some of the most aggressive teenagers show signs of poor communication skills and low self-esteem.
And since children have no parental role models to look up to, they would tend to focus their attention on popular culture, no matter how violent or aggressive it nature may be. The lack of support from the family and community therefore poses burden on schools, as it turns out that they are the only social institution left to “educate, shelter, and discipline children,” (crf-usa. org). Nevertheless, this task serves too tasking as “most schools have difficulty playing multiple roles as educators, surrogate parents, social service, or law-enforcement agencies”( crf-usa).
Violence Is Becoming Widespread in Schools With all these research and information laid on the table, it is therefore too difficult to ignore the fact that school violence is bound to impair the country’s education system. Lack of funding and support from state and federal governments, plus neglect on the part of communities and families, eventually prove too much for educators to bear the task of educating, disciplining and imparting positive attitudes to students.
Thus, it could be deduced that “violence and danger are constant companions for America's schoolchildren” (McClusky, cato. org) While state and federal documents reveal that school violence has been heading towards the slump since the advent of the 21st century, researchers believe that these information are misleading, as administrators and government officials are actually negligent and blind enough to make the problem known. Journalists are quick to point out the discrepancy of assessments. McClusky (cato. rg) revealed a Denver Post article that uncovered a widespread “under-reporting of violent incidents in Denver-area schools--under-reporting that occurred despite the presence of a state accountability system designed to identify dangerous schools. ” What’s went wrong is the fact that in the entire Colorado, as well as well as in other states, a lot of schools tend to under-report violent incidents. Furthermore, Chicago Tribune in McClusky (cato. org) reported negligence on the part of law enforcers in Illinois to warn school districts whenever “convicted juvenile sex offenders enroll in their schools.
Many failed to notify principals in the mistaken belief they were not permitted to alert them, when in fact they were required to do so” (cato. org). Another mistake on the part of the government is the poor process of collecting and gathering data, reveals Modzeleski in McClusky (cato. org). When the law regarding this issue was enacted in 2001, it was revealed that quite a good number of school districts have gathered sufficient data to provide accurate records regarding school violence, although there were also school districts who failed on this. Impact of Violence in Public Schools
There’s really no question that violence in schools have profound effect not just in the education system, but in the entire aspect of American life. As schools are disturbed by violence, the effect is felt by students through poor education, low self-esteem and other debilitating factors that could affect not only their professional career, but other facets of their lives, as well. “It is intuitively obvious and consistent with an ecological perspective that crime and violence in settings in which youth live and attend school pose a poor context for academic involvement and performance,” explains Bowen & Bowen (321).
Indeed, violent and aggressive behavior displayed by students at school could mean poor academic performance, which could directly or indirectly hamper the teaching and learning process. Based on the observations made by Lochman, Lampron, Gemmer, & Harris (339), we can conclude therefore, that aggression and violence do not only hamper the individual’s academic performance, but the “negative impact [could also extend] on the education of their classmates by diverting their teachers from teaching and reducing the amount of time students are engaged in learning” (339).
In Garbarino & Abramowitz (17), we discovered that the “risks to development can come from both direct threats and the absence of opportunities for development. ” Aside from classroom performance, the impact of school violence also reaches to the physical side. Pollack, in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc. gov), reveals that “a number of students seek medical care for nonfatal, violence-related injuries. Some of these injuries are relatively minor and include cuts, bruises, and broken bones.
Other injuries, like gunshot wounds and head trauma, are more serious and can lead to permanent disability. ” But injuries extend deeper, more than what the eye can see, actually. The Center for Disease Control (cdc. gov) reveals that constant exposure to violence not only in school, but also at home and in the neighborhood, could result to different negative health, psychological and even mental outcomes to a person. This could include depression and anxiety, which could trigger fear in going to school and other negative effects to an individual’s life.
A 2007 survey by CDC (cdc. gov), shows that almost 6 percent of high school schools in the entire country nationwide did not go to school “on one or more of the 30 days before the survey” (cdc. gov) was conducted for fear of danger and harm “at school or on their way to or from school” (cdc. gov). Thus, for this reason, the rate of absences has risen from 1993 and 2005. Furthermore, Pollack (cdc. gov) revealed that around “160,000 students go home early on any given day because they are afraid of being bullied. ” Conclusion
All the records are one and the same in revealing that violence in the school is indeed a cause for alarm for everyone. According to the Indiana State University (indiana. edu), the past fifteen years saw a distressing rate in the increasing of youth violence in schools. Worst, both the culprits and the victims are getting younger and younger. What is sad and disturbing about this situation is that school officials themselves show little interest in curbing the criminality within their campus. They either fail to record the incidence or are negligent nough to inform higher officials and law enforcers about this. Furthermore, law enforcers themselves seem half-hearted in waging an all-out campaign against school violence. Even state and federal governments seem not to care at all. That is why, it is pretty irritating to note that government officials are proud to hail that school violence has either stabilized or spiraled downwards, even if every day, televisions and new papers keep on trumpeting for what really is the truth—incidents of shooting, stabbing, robbery, or rape right within the school campus.
Thus, we can really conclude that at this point, schools are not really safe. They are in fact, at their most dangerous—among the riskiest places, ever, for students and teachers be. As revealed by Indiana State University (indiana. edu): “National level data suggests that middle and high schools, especially larger schools, are more at-risk for serious violence. Moreover, students in urban schools serving predominantly lower SES minority children remain twice as likely to be victims of violence as students in suburban, town, or rural areas.
In addressing the tragic incidents that have occurred recently in suburban and rural schools, it is critical that the more ongoing and severe problems of lower SES urban schools and students not be forgotten or ignored. ” All these data, figures and studies have their significant effect on our schools and in society as a whole. Indeed “what we do in our schools on a day to day basis in terms of discipline may be related to serious crime and violence” (indiana. edu). Thus, each of us is partly to blame for what is happening. And as we are part of the problem, so, too are we parts of the solution.
And while comprehensive programs and tightened security are implemented to improve the atmosphere inside the school and reduce the violence, we may say that, really, only time could tell what the future holds for our country’s educational system.
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